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That was easily enough to beat Warner Bros.’ animated family film, The Lego Batman Movie, which took in $15 million from 4,088 locations.
The race is turning out to be closer than expected between the two films; pre-release tracking had suggested Lego Batman would debut to $60 million or more and Fifty Shades Darker, $40 million. Now, it is looking like Lego Batman will come in closer to $55 million, while the female-fueled Fifty Shades Darker could clear $47 million despite withering reviews. (At those numbers, neither will match the previous installments in their respective franchises.)
Bad weather on the East Coast could be impacting Lego Batman in particular. In February 2014, The Lego Movie debuted to $69.1 million domestically in a huge coup for Warner Bros.’ animation efforts.
In the spin-off, directed by Chris McKay, Will Arnett voices the role of the tiny Caped Crusader as the superhero tries to find himself and save Gotham City from a hostile takeover by The Joker (Zach Galifianakis). The voice cast also includes Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes. The critically acclaimed movie received an A- from audiences.
Two years ago, Fifty Shades of Grey launched to a record-breaking $85 million in the U.S. At the time, E.L. James’ book trilogy — dubbed “mommy porn” — was a global sensation, with groups of women going to the theater together. The first film had the advantage of Valentine’s Day landing on a Saturday night, as well as launching over the long Presidents Day weekend, which falls a week later this year.
Overseas, Fifty Shades Darker is easily dominating, grossing $25.5 million for an early foreign total of $48.2 million. It boasts the biggest opening day for an R-rated film behind Fifty Shades of Grey in numerous markets, including the U.K. ($4 million). The sequel should finish the weekend with $105 million internationally, the biggest opening of 2017 to date.
Fifty Shades Darker reunites Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as the characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, respectively. The R-rated film drew a B+ CinemaScore, compared to a C+ for Fifty Shades of Grey (some complained the first film wasn’t edgy enough.)
John Wick: Chapter 2, the weekend’s third new entry, is also doing better than expected, grossing $11 million from 3,113 theaters Friday for a projected $29 million weekend — more than double the debut of John Wick in Feburary 2014 ($14.4 million). Keanu Reeves reprises his role as a former hitman coming out of retirement in the male-driven action film, which nabbed an A- CinemaScore.
John Wick also stars Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane.
Lego Batman and John Wick currently boast the same strong rating on Rotten Tomatoes — 91 percent fresh — while Fifty Shades boasts a rotten 10 percent.
Split and Hidden Figures will round out the top five at the North American box office with an estimated $9 million and $8 million, respectively, for the weekend.
Feb. 10, 12:30 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
Feb. 11, 7:30 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
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